Sunday, January 14, 2007
so i just got home, and i have a situation. after an afternoon of shopping in the second most affluent section of nyc, and getting an incredible pair of jeans on sale, something awful happened on the subway; either that, or something wonderful didn't happen. here's the deal:
i saw this homeless woman who kept making eye contact with me--just me--and an incredible idea popped into my head. why don't i take her back to my apartment, let her shower, wash her clothes for her, and then take her out to dinner? i could even give her a really warm coat that i don't wear anymore. and just as fast as the idea appeared to be wonderful, it faded into the reality-driven, "well people just don't do that." so, in usual bryan fashion, i contested that notion and decided that i would be the one to do that. but just as fast as my stop approached, i handed her a dollar--the last one in my wallet--a gesture to which she responded, "thank you." it was then that i realized what a terrible mistake i'd just made. this woman, just as down to earth as me, just as alive as me, just as human as me, is in the worst condition i could imagine. and what's worse is that i could have alleviated that. i could have offered her a chance to clean up, soothe her irritated skin, wash her clothes, and filled her stomach. i could have reminded her of a life she once had, and maybe motivated her to seek rehabilitation via a shelter.
what's more is that a certain event in 2006 really showed me what wealth was. i gave up a job--a thankless, pass-the-time, job that got me nowhere but to the bank because it paid incredibly well--to pursue my true passion, which came as the job i have now. it pays a lot less, like welfare less, but i'm happy. truly, undeniably, and absolutely happy and fulfilled. and i learned that money is not what matters--it's your own personal fulfillment of goals and such. ok, enough oprah. what i'm trying to say is now that i'm not as financially free as i used to be, i see what a struggle it is to make it month to month, with rent and bills and food and what not. and i often wonder what would happen if i couldn't make it--if i just happened to be $100 short. what would go unpaid? rent-no. bills-no. food-well, why not?. food is the only thing i don't have some harassing voice remind me about. no collection agency will come after me if i dont' eat. and in the land of the free and the home of the brave, that's fucking sad.
what's even sadder, is that in this same great nation, at the same exact time as that poor woman sat on that R train, some rich family is sitting around a table eating off plates that cost more than my year's rent. i'm not saying that wealthy people don't deserve what they have--many (but not all) of them work for it. what i'm saying is that it's pathetic that they can allow themselves to indulge in such a manner, to go so excessively overboard, while R train lady can't even get a pickle to eat. what could that dollar i gave her bought her? in new york? not a burger, not a bottle of water, not even a pack of gum. don't people have a conscience anymore? our government taxes us left and right for social this and right-to-work tax that, yet where is the tax that could actually BENEFIT the human race? where's the homeless tax? the small constituent of money that goes toward building shelters and paying staff members that show these fellow human beings who currently happen to be down on their luck that there is another option than sleeping between buildings.
the mayor can have a $2 million inaguration party, while close to 14,000 citizens of his presiding city wait outside in the cold.
the mayor decided to be brazen and said, "why don't we take that $2 million dollar allocation in the budget and use it to buy a whole bunch of food that we'll spend the night giving out to the homeless--individuals and families alike!!
i'll tell you something--even if caviar didn't taste like cold cum, i'd prefer to be handing out food to people who need it than flanking some 5'4" stuttering fuckhead whom we refer to as the mayor at some stuffy, overstaffed party.
AND WHAT IF
the mayor, whose surname is not derived from a random phonebook listing, but instead the eponymous multi-billion dollar financial institution, were to say, "seeing as how i'm worth billions, why not take the mayoral salary and donate it to, say, the bowery residence committee! let's help those who can't fathom money past the teens!"
what if that happened? i'll tell you what--there wouldn't be as many children reporting to a parking lot after school, wondering why there's no refrigerator on which to post their drawings; there wouldn't be as many people trying to sleep as we step over them on the way to work in the morning; there wouldn't be an army of mentally ill people roaming the streets, potentially putting us in harm; and there would be a fucking LOT LESS people going hungry.
i know to expect such things to happen is not only far-fetched, but virtually impossible, but just imagine. and you know what else? i feel like it would snowball. once tight-ass bloomberg loosened his wallet for the good of his fellow man, i truly believe it would spur others of considerable financial comfort to follow suit.
all i know is that i was raised in an extremely modest household, an experience i will always covet as one of my most prized possessions. i've always related with marginal people--different races, sexualities, and social groups. i was never the popular bitch in high school (though college i can't speak much for), and i was always the one who talked to the black kid in class. and i not only found it the 'nice' thing to do, but i also found it extremely empowering. the fact that i possessed the fortunate ability to rise above everybody else, as insignificant as it seems in retrospect, and talked to the one person they so intently ignored, made me one with the marginals. i don't think of myself as marginal, though. you have to have at least four people in the margin to be considered marginal. they say "three's a crowd," but the next verse is, "and four is marginal."
but enough about me.
here's about you--they say, "charity starts in the home," so what you need to do is commence being charitable. do five things a day--five meager deeds--to benefit your fellow human beings. it could be giving a homeless woman a dollar--or even better, the address of a homeless shelter! remember, the homeless don't carry blackberries--they can't access the internet with the convenience we can! or order an extra entree to go and give it to the guy lying outside the overpriced, overcooked restaurant. even better--cook a little extra next time and put it in a disposable tupperware--voila! instant meal to go for a homeless person. next time you're in the duane reade, go to the aisle that sells travel sized products and buy a few to constitute a care package that you can give a homeless person.
remember one thing--aside from the brc, and other homeless agencies, nobody else gives a fuck about the homeless. sympathy gets you nowhere (now that flattery does), so act up and go fucking help someone! GO! NOW!!!
try these agencies for encouragement:
bowery residence committee (brc)
nyc dept of homeless services
and one of my faves,
so get with the picture people--act up, 'cause nobody going to do it for you.